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Jul 27, 2008 01:49 PM

What to do with Maize/Cornflour?

Hi all; I am originally from the states and bought Maize Flour (with "Cornflour" printed underneath in parentheses) thinking I could use it to make corn tortillas. However when I got home I looked up Maize Flour on the internet and learned that I cannot use it for my recipe. Now I have a 1kg bag of Maize Flour (Cornflour) and no idea what to do with it - I threw out the receipt so can't return it to the store- and I've never heard of maize/cornflour before I bought it.

Any idea of something to use it for? Is it good for any recipe normal flour would work for, or is it for special uses?

Thank you in advance for any help you can provide!

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  1. I'm pretty sure that what's called cornflour here in the UK is the same thing as cornstarch in the U.S. (I learned all this a few years ago from my British husband.) It's used as a thickener for gravies etc. Keep it around... it'll come in handy from time to time. It's good for marinades in Chinese cooking - things like that. Don't use it for recipes calling for flour as in cakes etc. As you've probably discovered, there are different flours here... plain and self-rising.

    7 Replies
    1. re: zuriga1

      Zuriga1, thank you for your reply. I have done some research on the very different food terminologies between countries and read that this might be the same as cornstarch, but it is slightly yellowish (light golden beigey yellow) in color (our cornstarch is usually white) and the bag is pretty big (1 kg) so that would be an awful lot of cornstarch to keep around. I will try to use it as a thickener to see what happens... the package says "use to add a pleasing texture to baked goods and a smooth consistency to meals and sauces" whatever that means :-). I'm at a loss. If this is just the same as cornstarch I will be making gravies every night for the next two years to use this up!

      1. re: ideabaker

        If it has any trace of yellow it isn't corn starch. Sounds like what you have is corn meal, although it might be more finely ground than we typically have in the US. Don't use it as a thickener; it adds flavor that might not work with your sauce. You could make corn bread (lots of recipes available online), or use it in breading or batters for fried chicken or seafood (either all corn flour or a 50/50 mix with wheat flour). You can try making polenta with it, but if the flour is very fine you could end up with corn paste.

        1. re: Zeldog

          If I recall some of the earlier cornbread discussions correctly, the northern (think, New England) style tends to use half medium grind cornmeal, half white flour, and a fair amount of sugar. The southern style uses little sugar, much more cornmeal than flour, and a finer grind. So your corn flour might work well in southern style recipes.

          This is an example of the fine corn flour that I've used in a southern style cornbread

          You could also use a modest quantity in any multigrain recipe (quick breads, muffins). Being fine the harder corn texture won't be noticeable.

          1. re: paulj

            Paulj, I didn't think about trying it for cornbread, which I love! I will check out your link. As I'm making soup later this week (am in NZ and it is chilly and wet for the week) cornbread would be perfect if the Maize flour would work. Thanks for the suggestion!

          2. re: Zeldog

            My thoughts exactly Zeldog, as it is definitely yellowish/blondish in color. I think it would certainly make whatever I was cooking taste a bit "corny". I just picked up a fish at the market today (a local NZ one which I'm not familiar with but they said it could be fried) and will try using it for dredging before pan frying. Between cornbread and frying I might use this stuff up before the end of the decade :-). Thank you for your advice!

            1. re: Zeldog

              In the South, particularly along the Gulf Coast, corn flour is a grind that is between cornmeal and cornstarch. It sounds like what you have. It's ground too fine for cornbread. Too thick for most thickening uses. It is perfect, however, for use as a coating. Along the Gulf Coast, they call it "fish fry," because it's used to coat fish before frying. But you can use it to dredge just about anything before frying - chicken, sliced green tomatoes.

              1. re: Potomac Bob

                Bob, funny, I grew up in Houston and never saw corn flour (did see Maseca for making tortillas, but never the corn flour). I did try the Maize flour out by coating some fish (a native New Zealand fish I'd never heard of) before frying and it came out perfectly, so it must be the same thing! It seemed to fine for coating chicken (but I soak my chicken in buttermilk overnight before breading, so it is pretty wet and has that tangy buttermilk flavor)... do you think it would work with buttermilk-soaked chicken for a fry up (would it taste alright?

        2. I use cornflour, fine cornmeal, to dredge okra in before I fry it.It works well to dredge fish before sauteeing or frying as well. It has a similar function to flour in these applications but is a little crispier when cooked It also works well in a corn pudding, with flour in corn pancakes, bearing in mind that it doesn't have the same smooth thickening or binding properties as wheat flour and as such should be used in combination with wheat flour.

          3 Replies
          1. re: WCchopper

            The fish tip is one I'm definitely going to try. I'm not sure what corn pudding is supposed to look (or taste) like, so I may have to give that one a pass or risk offending the tastebuds of my Kiwi friends :-). I love fried okra, but it's winter in NZ where I am and okra isn't growing in the garden yet, but that's another definite to try. Now you've got me yearning for fried okra!!! (Former Southerner here...) If I could get a green tomato the maize might be good for breading that... think so?

            1. re: ideabaker

              Yeah, former Southerner here too. I think green tomatoes would do nicely. I have found regular corn meal to be a bit gritty and prefer the texture of cornflour for all things I would normally fry in cornmeal.

              Corn pudding is like spoon bread I think, a sort of custard with sweet corn kernals mixed in.

              Another option might be fritters, which can be amended to contain most any vegetable.

              1. re: WCchopper

                Thanks WCchopper and everyone for your suggestions. I used the flour tonight to dredge fish filets in before pan frying and they came out light and crispy; as WC said a nicer texture than using just cornmeal. I actually just got a mussel fritter recipe from a fellow Chowhounder and will try the flour in that too!

          2. I sometimes use it by bringing some water to a boil, adding the Maize flour gradually until it develops into a thick mass, continue cooking (stirring constantly) for about five minutes then spooning the finished "mush" into a buttered baking dish to a depth of about 1/4 inch. After it's cooled, I cut it into squares and fry it in butter. Makes a great breakfast treat; can also be cooked up in that manner adding various herbs and serving it along side a nice strip steak or other meat entree.

            3 Replies
            1. re: todao

              Todao, that sounds very interesting, almost like a polenta of sorts... I will try that, thank you!

              1. re: ideabaker

                Just a thought....but after reading this thread and the one about the best fried chicken....perhaps using this would get the OP's darker brown coloring and lighter crust on his chicken that he remembers so well from his younger days.

                1. re: tasaday

                  Good point, and last night I made chicken cutlets by first dredging them (seasoned first) in seasoned Maize flour, then eggs, then a mix of seasoned Italian Bread Crumbs and Panko Bread crumbs mixed together, then I fried them in Canola with a few tablespoons of butter thrown in, they were HEAVEN! Rich brown in color, light, crispy, and delicious with the three layers of seasoning. I only made three pieces for two people and we were fighting over the last piece :-).

            2. It seems like with all of the great advice you have resolved your issue of what to do with it but wanted to add my two cents. I will thicken my chili with it and it does impart a nice corn-y taste. I just take some of my hot chili in a bowl, add the flour until I have a paste then start stirring it back into the big pan of chili.

              2 Replies
                1. re: jodymaryk

                  jodymaryk thank you for that suggestion. I am embarrassed to admit that I lived in TX for twenty years and never learned how to make chili. It's on my lists of new dishes to learn this winter, and your tip will come in handy! Now to find a good recipe, and I'm sure there are tons on Chow! Again, thank you!

                2. First of all, reading the posts here, there seems to be a confusion about what you have. Corn flour is a finely ground cornmeal, usually a fine yellow powder with the texture of wheat flour and a delicate aroma of cornmeal. It is generally used for baking. In the UK and Australia corn flour, refers to what is called corn starch in the states. The color is pure white or very light yellow. the texture is slippery when rubbed between the fingers. It is orderless. This is generally used for thickening sauces or for adding crunch to a deep fry batter (tempura). If you want to make tortillas or tamales you need Nixtamal, this is a flour made of hominy (alkali processed corn).